Loess Hills, pteridophytes, ferns, Botrychium, Equisetum
Eleven species of pteridophytes and one hybrid occur in the Loess Hills of western Iowa. Adiantum pedatum L., Athyrium filix-femina (L.) Roth, Camptosorus rhizophyllus (L.) Link, Cystopteris tenuis (Michx.) Desv., Cystopteris protrusa (Weath.) Blasdell, and Matteuccia struthiopteris (L.) Todaro are widely distributed in Iowa, but restricted in this area to the most mesic woodlands, probably due to the drought sensitivity of their shallow rhizomes and above-ground gametophytes. Equisetum hyemale L. and E. arvense L. are common in riparian habitats and moist roadside ditches. These two species likely survive by maintaining contact with a permanent water table. Equisetum laevigatum A. Braun, E. Xferrissii Clute, Botrychium virginianum (L.) Sw., and a new species, Botrychium "prairie", inhabit native Loess Hills prairies. These Equisetum taxa avoid prairie drought through deep underground rhizomes, early senescence of aerial stems, and a low above-ground to below-ground biomass ratio. Underground gametophytes and rhizomes and early spring phenology are attributes allowing survival of the Botrychium species on the prairie. B. "prairie" of the subgenus Botrychium may be a Pleistocene relict.
Proceedings of the Iowa Academy of Science
© Copyright 1985 by the Iowa Academy of Science
Farrar, Donald R.
"Pteridophytes of Iowa's Loess Hills - Adaptations to Dry Habitats,"
Proceedings of the Iowa Academy of Science, 92(5), 196-198.
Available at: https://scholarworks.uni.edu/pias/vol92/iss5/11